This is actually a relatively straightforward design challenge. You need a pair of long flaps for the bottom and top/cockpit and a pair of short flaps for the side wings. In this case, that means the classic Fish Base. It uses an open sink to narrow the flaps, then proceeds about the business of styling them into the recognizable bits.
One of my favorite things to do when going out for sushi is to make something fun from the inevitable chopstick wrapper. This evening I went for a scorpion, eschewing my usual rule against cutting/tearing. For a very long time, I stuck to notions of “pure” origami being a single uncut square. Then I got over myself. I still prefer an uncut square, but really, sometimes it just makes sense to make the most of the material you’ve got.
This week saw some fantastic concept art come in for Descent Into Midnight. We’ve successfully completed two playtests and have started to hit our stride as to what is working with the playbooks and what we can improve. We’ve started to formalize our processes to ensure we can keep up the momentum we’re seeing right now.
If the playtests are anything to judge by, we’ve got a game that is going to be engaging, beautiful, and horrifying exactly when it needs to be. Can’t wait to see what’s coming up!
A great scene from Swallows of the South podcast.
Awww, Gippy looks so happy. It’s really a shame what’s going to happen to him.
Check out She’s a Super Geek podcast!
Some fan art for Campaign and One Shot on the One Shot network!
Inspired by this year’s Game Chef challenge, I started work on an RPG that would incorporate the themes of Boundaries with the “ingredients” of Yarn, Echo, Smoke, and Cut. While I didn’t end up using all of them, it got the wheels turning.
A crafty role-playing game about a tight-knit bomber crew trying to defect.
What you need to play:
- Size 7-8 knitting needles (4.5 mm – 5.0 mm)
- 8 ft (2.5 m) of medium weight yarn in a different color for each player
- One 10-sided die
- Scissors (preferably one for each player)
You and the other players are the crew of a bomber. You’ve been flying missions over the border through hails of antiaircraft fire and over the smoking ruins of no man’s land every night for months. This afternoon you said goodbye to your loved ones, wearing the sweaters they made you to keep you warm high in the sky. You kissed them goodbye for the last time. You and your crewmates know something. Something terrible. And you have decided the only thing left to do… is defect.
The game starts as you take off from the landing field, on a course to enemy territory, a place from which you’ll never return.
How to Play:
Each player selects a color of yarn. You’ll be knitting yourself a swatch of fabric to represent the Sweater your character was given by their loved one. While you knit, answer the following questions:
- What is your character’s job on the plane?
- What finally convinced them to go along with the plan to defect?
- Who are they leaving behind?
- What’s one danger they’re afraid they’ll face on the way? (Work as a group to come up with several challenges)
To knit your Sweater, cast on 8 stitches, then work 13 rows in a stockinette stitch (alternate rows of knitting and purling). Do not cast off. Once you have completed the last row, slide the needle out, then cut off the working yarn one inch from the last stitch. Whenever you unravel, do it using this strand (not the original tail).
This is a cooperative game with no lead storyteller. Together, draw on the challenges you discussed while you talked about your characters. Use these as the baseline for the tense situations you find yourself in as you attempt to cross the border. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, try some of the following:
- The personnel in the flight tower as you take off are suspicious of you
- Nasty weather that threatens to throw you off course or damage the plane
- Friendly fighters get sent to chase you down
- A non-player character member of the crew has a breakdown and tries to sabotage the plane so you have to turn back
- You stray into range of an anti-aircraft battery/search lights
- Enemy fighters on patrol spot you and move to attack
- You must convince the enemy you’re there to defect
- A mechanical problem forces you to shut off one or more engines
- Ice freezes up some of the controls
- One character tells the others about the plans they had back home
- The landing zone isn’t big enough for the bomber
- One of the crew suffers a nasty injury
Getting past no man’s land and across the border won’t be easy. When you face challenging situations, your character must make a roll to determine if they succeed. Success is measured on a scale of 1 to 19. You’ll be rolling the ten-sided die to get a result, but before you do, you can unravel stitches of your sweater to give yourself a bonus to the roll of 1 per stitch unraveled.
- 1-9: You failed. The lower the number, the worse the consequence of your failure. A 9 on a roll to navigate might mean you’re only a few miles off course. A 1 on a roll to avoid searchlights might put you right in the center of a spotlight, conveniently near an anti-aircraft installation.
- 10-19: You succeeded. The higher the number, the better the result. A 10 on a roll to convince the air control tower that you’re on the schedule might mean they let you take off, but they’re still going to call the flight officer to check it after you’re off the ground. A 19 on a roll to watch for enemy fighters might let you notice the enemy flight coming from above out of the sun in time to line up all your gun turrets and get an unexpected first shot at them.
After you’ve made your roll, talk amongst yourselves as a group about what consequences or benefits make sense. Try to come up with an answer that works for everyone, but if you can’t agree, the person who made the roll has the final decision.
The narrative consequences of a failure will come naturally, but they also have consequences for the players. Since the whole crew is working together on this journey, they succeed together and they fail together. We represent this cut the cutting and tying of yarn.
Specifically, any time a roll is failed (a result of 1-9), everyone unravels any stitches as needed to ensure they have four inches (10 cm) of yarn between their last whole stitch and either the end of the yarn (at the beginning of the game) or the last knot in the yarn. Then, they cut their yarn two inches (5 cm) from the last whole stitch and pass it to the player on their right. Everyone then ties the yarn they were passed to the end they just cut.
The successes and failures should guide you through a challenge to new difficulties, but once you’ve resolved a scene, if there isn’t an immediately obvious new challenge that arises from it, go back to the list you talked about and decide what dramatic thing happens. Try to make sure everyone gets to contribute in meaningful ways, so make sure to include challenges that will require everyone’s input over the course of the game.
Also keep the pacing in mind. Ideally people should be running low on stitches to spend as you approach the end of your story.
- If you find yourself with too many left over, throw in a tense, spicy combat with enemy fighters and make those checks to convince them you’re there to defect, pilot your way out of their sights, and fire warning shots across their noses to keep them at bay.
- If you’re really running low and don’t know if you’ll have quite enough to get over the finish line, consider allowing anyone who has run out of stitches to roll the dice with an adjusted scale of 1-10, with 6 being a success to ensure they get to stay in the game while you play.
- If you’ve still got a ton of story to tell and you’re having fun, consider the following: Anyone who runs out of stitches goes into recuperation. While their character is recuperating from the stress of the mission, they can still make rolls, but they’re relying on the team to get them through. Other team members can supply the stitches to add to their roll (still with a max of +9). They represent recuperation by reknitting their Sweater with their patchwork yarn. Once they’ve reknitted the Sweater, they are done recuperating and can spend their stitches as normal. This player no longer cuts their yarn on failures, but once they run out of stitches again, that’s it. They’re done (unless you’re having such a great time you want to keep the story going, in which case, by all means allow recuperation multiple times). If your whole team is running low at the same time and multiple people are going to be recuperating, this might be a great time for a restroom break to let everybody knit back up to full strength.
Ending the Story:
The story ends when the plane lands (hopefully) safely on the other side of the border. At this point, everyone unravels any portion of their Sweater they have remaining. It’s over, for now. Take a look around at the yarn everyone has in front of them. It’s a map of the successes and failures it took to get your characters through to this point.
Finally, take your colorful patchwork yarn and reknit the Sweater. This will be your record of the game and the story you created together. Ask the following questions:
Use this time to discuss who and what you left behind, what sacrifices you made on the journey, how you came together, your fears and hopes about what this new place will be like, and the makeup of your new sweaters.
- What will your character miss the most?
- What are they most looking forward to?
- How has their relationship changed with the other members of the crew?
- Was it really worth it?
Yet another piece of Campaign fan art, this one holds a very special place in my heart. A goofy bit about a male Mandalorian being a Mailmandalorian stuck in my brain and I drew the sketch below (heavily based on the mailman Jamie from Steven Universe – who may very well be my favorite character on that show).
Fast forward a bit and I’m commissioning the fantastic Beka Black to create an epic reinterpretation, drawing on the classic U.S. National Parks travel posters for inspiration. Add to that her Mando’a translation of the U.S. Postal Service Creed and you’ve got a recipe for the amazing image below.
Ne cin’ciri ra pitat nadala ra dha’ca ara’nov cuun verde teh iviin’yc bralir be val ake.
“No snow or rain or heat or dark night blocks our warriors from the quick success of their missions.”
One of the benefits of having awesome game designer friends is getting to meet their other awesome game designer friends. I met Rich Howard online via listening to his podcast, Whelmed: The Young Justice Files then interacting with him on Twitter. He’s a fantastic person all around, and we’re now half of the team working on Descent into Midnight.
At his birthday party, I ended up meeting J.M. Perkins, a game designer currently working on the fantastic Salt in Wounds campaign setting, which blew away its Kickstarter funding goals, raising eleven times its funding goal.
J.M. and I got to talking about our gaming projects, and I mentioned that my passion and experience, while spanning many different arts, crafts, and game styles, has centered mostly around origami since I was about five years old. I was bemoaning the fact that putting origami and gaming together was difficult, because of the restrictions it places on the players in terms of setup time (even simple models can take a few minutes to fold), skill set (not everyone knows how to fold more than a paper airplane), and complexity (if you’re going to use folding or unfolding as a resolution mechanic, you have a limited number of actions you can resolve before the paper simply begins to tear at the creases, or becomes so thick as to become unworkable).
Fast forward an hour or so. J.M. has come up with an amazing title “Paper Talisman” and the basic outline of an evocative setting that brings together a bunch of the ideas that had been floating around separately in my head. If you ever get the chance to hang out and talk with J.M., by all means do so. I’m pretty sure I sat there with my mouth hanging open for at least five minutes of the conversation, looking back and forth between him and Rich in awe at the way everything was coming together.
So… without further ado, here’s the beginnings of Paper Talisman. The bits in bold still need to be worked out, but you can clearly see the direction the game is going.
You are 13 years old. You are the among the brightest and the best of the survivors of the magical apocalypse. Today is the day you venture out into the wastes to gather the McGuffin. If you wait any longer, the potential will leave you as your body changes and you become an adult like the others. You have been prepared, but what will you sacrifice to bring back what is needed?
One person plays the GM, and will be the person responsible for presenting the players with challenges. Each other player will decide the mantra, secret, oath, hope, or bond you will imbue their Paper Talisman with. Write it down somewhere other than on the paper you will use to fold the model, or simply memorize it.
Fold an origami model (need to playtest various models for complexity). As you make each fold, whisper the mantra into your talisman.
Once the model is complete, it is your Paper Talisman. It represents your youth, your potential, and your journey toward adulthood. It also represents your ability to change the world around you.
As you progress through the adventure, you can sacrifice the integrity of your Paper Talisman to accomplish great things, or avoid great harm, but there is a price.
Minor feats require temporary sacrifice. To perform a minor feat, unfold a portion of the model. If you stop to recuperate and open up to one of your companions, and they open up to you, you can refold it to become whole again.
Major feats require permanent sacrifice. The GM will tell you how you must sacrifice a portion of your Paper Talisman. Dip it in ink, burn it, cut it, tear it, eat it, etc. This should be an irreversible harm done to your Paper Talisman. The degree and method of destruction should be indicative of what’s happening in the narrative if possible, practical, and safe.
You are a young teenager trained to face the dangers of the wastes. So are your companions. Most obstacles should be overcome by a minor feat. But there are many threats no one could truly be prepared for. These are the things that will require major feats to defeat.
Aside from the inherent dangers of a land ravaged by the magical apocalypse, there are The Lost. The Lost are the young people who went out, just like you, but never came back, twisted by the dark energies in the wastes before they could return. They are a fearsome enemy. But they are not the most fearsome creatures outside the village. Their broken and twisted Talismans are horrors beyond imagining, and wild stories are told of the forms they take.
If you make it back alive without the McGuffin, you have doomed yourself and your people to a slow death. If you make it back with the McGuffin, you have ensured the survival of your people for another year, but at what cost?